Only 364 days to go!

I used to be sad on Dec. 26.

Radio stations that began playing Christmas music in mid-November abruptly stopped.

Holiday TV specials that ran 24/7 on some channels were replaced.

And seasonal areas of department stores looked like retail war zones.

Dec. 26 wasn’t fun.

At some point as I grew up, I realized Christmas wasn’t about a day.

For people who believe in Christianity, Christmas is a day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

For others, it’s a day when Santa leaves gifts for those on his Nice List.

For many, it’s a time to be with family and friends.

Leading up to the finish line, it’s an energetic and fun time. But once you cross that finish line, the race seems very distant.

But as I began to understand what Christmas means to me, I realized that a date on a calendar doesn’t have to be the end of Christmas.

And I’m not talking about the 12 days of Christmas or Orthodox Christmas.

Instead, I think of Christmas as a belief. Christmas spirit can live all year long, without wrapping paper and bows and twinkling lights.

Christmas spirit can live in kind gestures, in hugs, in “Jingle Bells” playing in June.

Christmas spirit can live on long after December is gone.

I think of a three songs: B.E. Taylor’s “Feel the Love of Christmas,” Brad Paisley’s “Only 364 Days To Go” and LeAnn Rimes’ “Today is Christmas.”

Take a listen to each of them.

» “Feel the Love of Christmas”

» “Only 364 Days To Go”

» “Today is Christmas”

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The ‘Confluence’: Where Pittsburgh and the holidays come together

photo by WESAI was graciously invited to return to 90.5 WESA’s “The Confluence” program to share my love of Pittsburgh and the holiday season with listeners.

We talked PPG Place gingerbread houses, local artisan markets, walking tours, and, of course Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights.

I joined Rossilynne Culgan, at The Incline and Katie Blackley, of WESA.

Tune in around the 24-minute mark to hear the interview.

Listen to WESA radio on Nov. 30!

Pittsburgh’s NPR station WESA 90.5 FM has graciously asked me back to share all things Pittsburgh and the holidays!

I’ll be part of a three-person panel during the station’s “Confluence” show that will air live at 9 a.m. Nov. 30. The segment will air sometime in the 9:30 half hour.

You can listen to 90.5 FM in Pittsburgh and from anywhere online . Once you open the website, click/tap the “listen live” option.

Among the topics I hope to talk about include Kennywood Park’s Holiday Lights, Port Authority’s decorated buses and Ts, and all of the sights Downtown!

Enough! Christmas music isn’t bad for you … I would know

There’s a phrase that — for better or worse — has become popular over the last few years.

Fake news.

Fear not, this is not a political post.

The stories that creep up beginning around September that claim listening to Christmas music is bad for your health are … fake news. (I won’t link to any, but here’s a quick Google search link.)

I listen to Christmas music most of the year. There’s something calming about listening to chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Rudolph and Frosty in the middle of summer.

The reasons cited for Christmas music not being healthy include stress of the holiday season. If a song makes you stressed, you’re holidaying wrong.

Christmas music shares stories of tradition, love, happiness, joy. It’s meaningful, fun and romantic.

Yinz better watch aht: Get to know the popular Pittsburgh Christmas carol

Surely, you’ve heard of Pittsburghese. And, we all know the song about Santa coming to town.

Well, a Pittsburgher blended the two about 20 years ago. And the song — recorded separately from being written — continues to sparkle ‘n at.

Yinz better wahtch aht

Yinz better not paht

Yinz better not cry,

I’m tellin’ yinz hauscome

Santa Claus is commin’ dahntahn

Of course, it’s the Yinzer version of the popular “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

In 2015, I talked with Kevin Harkins for a story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Sewickley Herald.

Writing the song came pretty easy for Harkins.

“I was always the guy at the law firm who could do the Pittsburghese accent,” Harkins said of the regional dialect commonly referred to as Pittsburghese.

Get this — the song spread virally before Facebook and Twitter became a thing!

Harkins thinks the song has endured because of the number of Pittsburghers who fled the region looking for work.

“A lot of people had to leave the city to get a job,” he said. “So there were all these Pittsburghers across the country who were seeing it and thinking of Pittsburgh.”

And, at least as of 2015, he still was receiving messages about the lyrics.

“Every Christmas we’d get pings back from people who saw it,” he said.